Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
Shrek is the first in one of the most successful film franchises of all time, as well as the second computer animation from DreamWorks after Antz (1998).
After fairy tale creatures are dumped on his swamp by Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow), grumpy ogre Shrek (Mike Myers) and a talking Donkey (Eddie Murphy) agree to rescue the beautiful Priness Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a Dragon (Frank Welker) guarded tower for Farquaad in order to get his land back. However, matters are further complicated when Shrek falls in love with Fiona, and vice versa. And the princess also has a secret of her own...
Firstly, let's look at the animation. It is outstanding, no doubt about it. Everything is really bright, vivid and colourful, as well as intricately designed and detailed that give the characters such a real human quality. There are absolutely no weak points at all, everything was clearly created over a large amount of time to look as perfect as possible, and it is all so beautiful to look at.
Secondly, let's look at the characters and the superb vocal performances. Shrek is truly brought to life by Myers, who makes the grumpy ogre feel so realistic, and only strengthens this with the use of a Scots accent, that makes the character only more comical. And the characters struggle with his emotions in the final twenty minutes or so is very heartfelt and powerful. Murphy is comic gold as the talking donkey (simply called Donkey), bringing excellent comic timing and delivery to the character, through vast amounts of energy and gusto, making Donkey hilarious and sincere. Diaz makes Fiona a fiesty, no-nonsense type of girl, who is charming and gorgeous, as well as deep and complex. Lithgow makes Farquaad such the perfect creep and so deliciously sleezy, and some great gags come from the fact he is scarcely four feet tall. These wonderful characters are also supported by a great ensemble of supporting characters, almost all of whom are your typical fairy tale characters - Gingerbread Man (Conrad Vernon), Magic Mirror (Chris Miller), Pinocchio (Cody Cameron), Three Little Pigs (also Cameron), Three Blind Mice (Christopher Knights, Simon J. Smith, Jerome De Guzman), and the cross-dressing Big Bad Wolf (Aron Warner) from Little Red Riding Hood - all of whom, although getting very little screen time, have very comical appearances and are instantly memorable.
Finally, let's look at the screenplay. It is wonderful. There is a gag a minute, both verbal and physical, some of which are more sophisticated, but that are all ultimately farcical, full of slapstick and innuendos. The characters (certainly the four leads) get vast amounts of development, which makes them very substantial and coherently engaging, as well as hilarious due to the amount of gags which they are given. And despite the film's medieval setting, everything medieval is given a contemporary twist that make both great gags and interesting components. Combine the screenplay with the above mentioned elements of animation and characters, and you have a very substantial, coherently entertaining and powerful film, making Shrek one of the only computer animated features to rival the overall quality of Pixar films.
Stars: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Conrad Vernon, Chris Miller, Cody Cameron, Christopher Knights, Aron Warner, Jim Cummings, Jerome De Guzman, Vincent Cassel.
Oscar: Best Animated Feature (Aron Warner).
Oscar nomination: Best Adapted Screenplay (Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, Roger S.H. Schulman).